Homework Question on The Greatest Happiness Principle
- The Greatest Happiness Principle is a core concept of classical utilitarian ethics (Francis Hutcheson, An Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, 1725; Jeremy Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 2nd edn, 1828. Basically it says that the rightness or wrongness of an action should be determined by how many people are positively affected (made more happy than not) by that action. Some of the problems in applying this principle in real life situations are related to the fact that resources of any kind are almost always limited :It leaves open to interpretation how much of something should be distributed to one individual or group and not another and for what reason. (Imagine a limited supply of a pain killer in a hospital.
- QUESTION: Give an example of a real life situation that you know of (or you can create a hypothetical one) in which the greatest happiness principle was used as a guide for action.
- What were the competing claims made for the just distribution of the resource in question and how were those claims resolved (or not)?
Homework Answer on The Greatest Happiness Principle
Obamacare is a controversial law that was proposed by the President Obama when he won the office. Under this law, most of the American citizens with modest incomes would have a medical cover. It was projected that 30 million of the 44 million uninsured Americans would be able to afford medical cover once the law was passed. The cost of medical cover would be reduced by the law, while the persons that could not afford to be covered would be granted exemptions that made them covered by their home state.
The discrimination against women by medical insurance companies was made illegal by this law and persons with preexisting medical conditions were now made eligible for cover. Needless to mention, this law was going to contribute to the happiness and comfort of most Americans.The persons that were against this law felt that it was too ambitious and would not be sustainable in the future. The additional medical costs that would accompany this law were to be gotten from additional taxes, a fact that a significant number of persons disliked.
It was also claimed that this law would benefit the poor Americans at the expense of the rich. Companies that did not have medical cover were now compelled to insure their permanent workers, and there were fears that they would respond by cutting down on the working hours so as to avoid that cost. The pros and cons of this law were considered, and it was agreed that this law would of great benefit to the average American. It was therefore passed in the senate on December 24, 2009.